It’s been three days since the Wine and Gold suited up, but they’re in for a back-to-back (third of the season) beginning tonight in New Orleans and concluding tomorrow at home against the Knickerbockers. Both of Cleveland’s losses in the early going have come in the second of a back-to-back, so putting that discussion on hold for tomorrow, here are some pindowns for the Cavs-Pelicans, some thoughts for your thoughts.

  1. Without any debate, this is the most talented front court in the NBA. Here, in New Orleans. The Cavs have dominated thus far in the paint this season and have been going big in many lineups featuring only one guard. That said, the Anthony David-Demarcus Cousins combo is a whole other challenge.
  2. Another slow start for the Cavs where they let missed shots play too much of a factor on defense. What’s become obvious in every first half this season is the Cavs have difficult establishing their pace when this happens, as they’ve been thrown into shootouts on days where they’re clearly struggling to score.
  3. Cleveland’s offense did settle in against the Pelicans defense, which was switching on everything in the first half. Post ups by LeBron James gave the offense some consistency, but ball movement was limited overall in the first half. The Cavs finished the first half with nine assists; Pelicans had 21.
  4. Dwyane Wade at the point for the Cavs’ second unit is becoming a strategy of beauty. There’s this challenge Wade accepts on both ends of the floor against smaller and quicker guards. His footwork is now more body control than speed, and it shows when he’s defended by backup point guards versus starting shooting guards. Call it a handicap, call it common sense, but this Dwyane Wade is marvelously efficient. He went on a personal 6-0 run to bring the Cavs back within single digits, including a vintage drive and slam from the top of the key.
  5. A battle brewed in the first six minutes of the second half, as Kevin Love and Cousins went at it from beyond the arc. The bigs traded three-point baskets after the Cavs cut the double-digit deficit to four points, when Love connected on three of the four triples in that run. He put up nine points and four rebounds in the third quarter alone, but a stinger to the knee kept him out for half the quarter.
  6. Cavs defense, similar to the past few games, was significantly better in the second half. Fewer breakdowns and less space from shooters all seemed to be attributed to effort.
  7. If you’re Coach Lue, you can’t run Jae Crowder, Jeff Green and Kevin Love against Demarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Cleveland lineups continue to make sense on paper and on offense, but there are some defensive holes that seem self inflicted.
  8. On top of the fact that Cleveland’s thin backcourt didn’t allow for many guards to defend Pelican guards, New Orleans is home for two centers who can dribble better than many shooting guards. The penetration was dominant against Cleveland. The injury-induced imbalance of the roster was a concern coming in, but the continuing a lack of familiarity is still; for the players, it’s tiring. Watching the Cavs drop from a six-point deficit at the end of a third to 16 just three minutes into the fourth was demoralizing. For a team that has fewer guards to run and more mistakes to cover up, rallying is exhaustive for the “out of shape” Cavaliers.
  9. Demarcus Cousins is something else.

Lue waved the white flag with six minutes in the fourth quarter to take out the main rotation for tomorrow’s game against New York. Hopefully, the Cavaliers are motivated to avoid a third straight loss against a team that just got its first win… over the Nets. Either way, it’s a long season, so stay tuned for more pindowns tomorrow!